Black Friday heading for its greenest edition yet?

Did you fight off the effects of tryptophan to wake up before dawn and head to a local retailer for Black Friday deals? Economists project that the traditional kickoff to the Christmas shopping season may get the best results ever seen. USA Today reports that online sales could exceed $3 billion, a double digit jump over 2015:

Shoppers lined up at stores across the nation starting before dawn in search of bargains on everything from blouses to big-screen TVs as part of the Black Friday shopping ritual.

They were lured out not only by a generally strong economy, helped by a rising stock market, but also by what many perceived as exceptional deals. Retailers seeded their advertising with even more lucrative deep-discount “doorbusters” than last year, and offered more dramatic discounts, said Traci Gregorski, senior vice president of marketing at Market Track.

As a result, this year’s Black Friday could be record-setting. Early data indicates that Black Friday online sales at U.S. retail Web sites have brought in $490 million so far between midnight and 8:30 a.m. ET., reported Adobe Digital Insights. Adobe forecasts that Black Friday sales online will surpass $3 billion for the first time ever, hitting $3.05 billion in online revenue, up 11.3% over last year.

More shoppers are using their smartphones and tablets, too. Adobe expects Black Friday to be the first day in retail history to exceed $1 Billion in mobile revenue.

NBC also reports that early spending is “shattering records” inside brick-and-mortar stores too:

The annual holiday mega-retail event began Thanksgiving evening in many stores, and the corresponding deals, continuing through the weekend, are predicted to yield the biggest Black Friday sales in history.

In its annual holiday shopping forecast, the National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to increase 3.6 percent — higher than the seven-year average since the Great Recession. The growth is expected to create 690,000 new seasonal jobs as consumers relieved that a nasty presidential campaign is behind them open their wallets, the federation said.

While Minnesota’s Mall of America hoped to make a point by closing down operations on Thanksgiving, they’re still in the minority. In Lima, Ohio, the local NBC affiliate reports on the new family tradition of spending the evening in the mall: Lima, OH News Weather Sports

Why the big jump in this year’s Black Friday, assuming it materializes as expected? USA Today’s credit of “a generally strong economy” doesn’t entirely fit the current economic data.  It’s true that the BEA reported a boost in growth for Q3 a month ago, but only to 2.9%. If that advance estimate holds, it will be the first quarter in over a year to exceed 2% annualized growth, and the previous three quarters finished far below the mark — 1.4%, 0.8%, and 0.9%, respectively in reverse. And consumer optimism retreated by a significant amount in Q3, with personal consumption expenditures only growing by 2.1% after jumping 4.3% in Q2.

Last year’s Black Friday came in the middle of a decline, but economic conditions were actually better in the two previous years that today’s sales seem ready to beat. As this chart shows, we haven’t had a “generally strong economy” for a while, and for the last two years in particular:


This renewed consumer optimism might well be an expression of relief at the end of a bitter electoral cycle. It could also be exuberance at the change of economic direction that the election results appear to signify. It’s not an expression of a “strong economy” at the moment, but perhaps more of hope of a stronger economy in the near future.